“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14.26)
Some amazing implications of this passage:
1) Jesus is not looking for followers who don't love Him supremely.
2) Jesus assumes that we will always follow our first love.
3) Therefore Jesus does not ask anyone to follow him dutifully - it is not possible. True "following" finds it's fuel in true love.
4) The gospel must, therefore, radically change our affections (as promised in the Old Testament; Jer. 31:31-34)
Consider this statement by Jonathan Edwards in his "Religious Affections":
"In order to men's being true Christians, it is necessary that they prosecute the business of religion and the service of God with great earnestness and diligence, as the work which they devote themselves to, and make the main business of their lives. All Christ's peculiar people not only do good works, but are zealous of good works, Tit. 2:14. No man can do the service of two masters at once. The that are God's true servants do give themselves to His service, and make it as it were their whole work, therein employing their whole hearts and the chief of their strength: Phil 3:13 "This one thing I do." (The Religious Affections, page 310)
We miss the greatness of the Gospel if, in the end, following Jesus is another duty and not the final love of the transformed heart (Ps 16:11, Ps. 37:4, Phil. 3:8). This cripples our joy and limits our influence.